Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why Sarah Palin excites the Right

William Kristol got at it very well the other day:

"A spectre is haunting the liberal elites of New York and Washington--the spectre of a young, attractive, unapologetic conservatism, rising out of the American countryside, free of the taint (fair or unfair) of the Bush administration and the recent Republican Congress, able to invigorate a McCain administration and to govern beyond it. That spectre has a name--Sarah Palin, the 44-year-old governor of Alaska chosen by John McCain on Friday to be his running mate. There she is: a working woman who's a proud wife and mother; a traditionalist in important matters who's broken through all kinds of barriers; a reformer who's a Republican; a challenger of a corrupt good-old-boy establishment who's a conservative; a successful woman whose life is unapologetically grounded in religious belief; a lady who's a leader."

I think she embodies not only everything conservatives want to see in a conservative leader, but also everything that a conservative FEMALE leader can be. And don't think there aren't plenty of conservative women out there who will see it. There are.

Republicans are energized by Palin

The choice of Sarah Palin really does seem to have energized Republicans everywhere.
Take Michigan Republicans, who were enthralled by the fact that one of their delegates to the GOP convention has a daughter who lived near the town where Palin served as mayor:

"She's exciting and full of energy," said Georgia Buchholtz, 47, who moved to Alaska in 1986 and voted for Palin for mayor and governor. "Sarah lives about 10 miles from me. We're not friends, but she recognizes me in the grocery store by face. I just saw her Sunday at the State Fair. There was Sarah, walking through the fair with her pony tail, in blue jeans, pushing a stroller, chatting with her girlfriends. She's the governor, but she looks and acts just like a regular person."

Which just may help Republicans this fall with blue collar voters...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obama's speech, using some second thoughts

Michael Gerson finds much to criticize in it. For example:

"In substance, Barack Obama's convention speech could easily have been given by Al Gore or John Kerry -- and, in various forms, was given by Kerry and Gore. It was all in there: the lunchbox economic populism -- based on the assumption that most Americans are filling their lunchboxes with scraps from dumpsters. The attacks on corporations, millionaires and other sinister job creators. The touching faith in the power of diplomacy....And some of the attacks [on John McCain] were simply unfair. Is it really credible to blame McCain for a tripling of oil imports during his time as senator? What does it mean that McCain "won't even follow (bin Laden) to the cave where he lives"? That McCain is cowardly? That he knows where bin Laden hides, and won't tell the rest of us? That he doesn't believe in fighting al-Qaeda?"

I think that's what's troubling about Obama's speech. I knew I would disagree with many of his policy prescriptions. But I still thought there'd be something new about the speech, that he'd really try to come off sounding and looking like someone new. But when you boil the speech down, there was nothing all that "change"-ish about it. He sounded like, well, a regular Democrat.

He heard us

Note--the NY Times reports today that part of the reason John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate was to rally the social conservative/evangelical base of the Republican Party.

And indeed, Mrs. Palin is a good conservative. She'll help do that.
Many of us conservatives have been urging Mr. McCain to do things to signify that he took conservatives' concerns seriously. Be glad, conservatives, that it appears he listened.

And p.s., Gail Collins, NY Times columnist, really ought to read her own newspaper, as today she wrote:

"The idea that women are going to race off to vote for any candidate with the same internal plumbing is both offensive and historically wrong."

Good thing that that was far from the only reason McCain picked Palin; it wasn't even the main reason he picked her. And she can't deny that many women are enthused about this selection. Ms. Collins I fear is letting her anti-Republican bias cloud her ability to write a good column.

At the sports desk: today's college football picks

Just picking winners of some key games today. We'll see how I do:

Illinois to upset Missouri--Mizzou to be burdened by high expectations; Juice Williams to run wild for the Illini.

USC over Virginia--so much talent on Southern Cal; Mark Sanchez will play.

Clemson over Alabama--Tigers to be strong at home; Nick Saban still rebuilding.

Washington to upset Oregon--watch out for Jake Locker of UW.

Tennessee over UCLA--the Vols always have lots of talent; I think it will take the Bruins a while to get settled under new coach Rick Neuheisel.

Michigan over Utah--Michigan's defense, the one part of the team that has a lot of returning starters, will get it done today for the Maize and Blue and new coach Rich Rodriguez; look for a low scoring game.

Friday, August 29, 2008

More on Obama's serious speech

Because Peggy Noonan thinks that Barack Obama's speech last night was very serious, even "stern" at times.

I agree. And I thought Obama went that direction because he was listening to Democrats, and others, who argued he hadn't been passionate and fiery enough, and hadn't given enough specifics (Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert in the NY Times have been very vociferous in pushing these points). But Noonan thinks there's a larger point that Obama was trying to make, and she thinks too, in a fascinating point, that in doing so, the Obama people left John McCain an opening:

"I think Mr. Obama decided it didn't matter if he repeated much of what he's said on the campaign trail before, which he had, because more than 30 million people were watching, and for a lot of them what he was saying was new. I think he decided to show an America that hadn't fully absorbed him that he was a person of seriousness and stature. I think he was saying, I'm a surprising person, but I can be president. I'm attractive, but I have depth. And by the way, the past eight years? I will be so much better than that. Take a chance. Not a gamble, a chance. Will it work? We'll see the polls on the final convention bounce soon. We'll know some of the answer then. But I have a feeling this speech will be like the Europe trip. It will take time for people to let it sink in, and decide what they think. And I'll tell you, Mr. Obama left a lot of space for Mr. McCain to play the happy warrior next week. He left the Republicans a big opportunity to wield against him, in contrast, humor, and wit, and even something approximating joy."

And I can see McCain being eager to assume the happy warrior mantle. Let the fun begin.

That disciplined, focused, organized Obama campaign dept

But it isn't--again.
Below I note how, almost immediately, the Obama camp put out a press release blasting Sarah Palin for having "zero" foreign policy experience.

But now, Barack Obama himself is being nice and praising Palin for having a "compelling" personal story.

When will the campaign get its story straight???

Obama's speech

Even though with much of it I disagreed, I have to say I thought Barack Obama's acceptance speech last night at Invesco Field was an effective speech.
One doesn't have to agree with what was said to see effectiveness.
Obama used both soaring rhetoric, and talked about the practical; he showed passion and made himself to appear strong and decisive.

I think there will be things to pick apart, and the McCain camp will soon get busy doing so.
Obama carefully avoided discussing the surge in Iraq and his opposition to it. Gee, wonder why?
He tried to imply that the war in Iraq was a failure. It isn't.
He seems to want to try to out-tough John McCain on Osama Bin Laden, and on various other foreign policy topics. Good luck with that.
He got one of his biggest cheers when he promised tax CUTS to 95% of Americans!
Another sign that conservatism is winning, folks--don't forget that. The only way that these Democrats think they can win is to disguise themselves as tax-cutters and government-waste-choppers. In other words, they think they have to disguise themselves as conservatives! Always remember that.

Obama will surely get a bump out of the convention. But so, likely, will McCain.
We'll see where things stand at the end of next week.

At the sports desk: NFL injury update

Indianapolis sources seem to think it's a sure thing that Peyton Manning will be ready to go for the Colts' opening game next weekend.

Which is a good thing, because the Colts' backup QBs haven't looked so hot.

Sarah Palin for VP

Wow--an inspired choice: John McCain has chosen Alaska Republican Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate.

It's almost impossible to count in how many ways this is a great choice.
But here are a few: she's young--no more slams against the ticket for being old. She too is a reformer and a maverick, who's challenged the GOP hierarchy in Alaska. She's not from Washington, and thus fits in well with McCain's desire to change business-as-usual there. She has a son who enlisted in the army; no more slams from liberals about conservatives backing military action but not being willing to send their family members to fight. She has experience with oil and gas issues, and has backed a new natural gas pipeline. She's consistently in her political career backed lower taxes and has opposed abortion; she's a good conservative.

She shakes up the race, and has swiftly grabbed attention away from Obama.
Gosh--good choice, Sen. McCain. There may be hope for him yet.

UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson points out another reason why Palin is an excellent choice:

"...Obama's "change" mantra and sermons on Washington insiders are suddenly null and void due to both VP picks: McCain went for an outsider, Obama went for the classical Uber-insider."

MORE UPDATE: The Obama campaign, meanwhile, rips Palin's "zero" foreign policy experience.

When will they make up their mind? All primary season, the Obama told us it wasn't "experience" that mattered, it was "judgment." Now suddenly their tune changes. Take it to them, conservatives; they're so vulnerable.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Interesting political stat dept

Barack Obama is often portrayed by Democrats as bipartisan, as someone who seeks and has sought to reach across the aisle and work with the opposition party to get things done.

Well. In fact, throughout his senate career, the facts--that is, Obama's actual votes--show that he has voted with his party no less than 96% of the time. Joe Biden has voted with his party 96.6% of the time.

Doesn't sound so bipartisan to me. Another Obama myth.

The Obama campaign tries to silence its critics

The short version: there's a man named William Ayers. He's an unrepentant left-wing radical who back around 1970 tried to bomb the Pentagon and other targets. He got lucky, escaped the long arm of the law, and wound up a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has associated in a number of different ways with...Barack Obama. It goes back years and several different projects.

There are records at the UIC which help detail Ayers and Obama's collaboration on a specific project. Stanley Kurtz of National Review has been researching Obama's life. He wanted access to these papers. At first, for no good reason, he was denied. Finally he was given permission; and, yesterday, he went on WGN radio to talk about his findings. The Obama campaign thus mounted a huge effort to have its supporters send a blizzard of e-mails and telephone calls to the show, demanding that Kurtz not be allowed on the show, though they gave no good reason as to why--they simply kept saying that he's a "smear artist."

Kurtz has obviously hit a raw nerve. And it's disturbing how the Obama campaign sought to silence criticism, for no good reason.
The entire episdoe is detailed here. Read the whole thing.
I invite any Obama supporter to e-mail me and explain EXACTLY why Mr. Kurtz is a "smear" artist and EXACTLY, with specifics, why he should not have been allowed on the radio.

Democratic Party "unity" watch (contd)

According to the NY Times' Maureen Dowd, there's a lot of "submerged hate" at the Democratic Convention in Denver--guess where it's coming from:

"There were a lot of bitter Clinton associates, fund-raisers and supporters wandering the halls, spewing vindictiveness, complaining of slights, scheming about Hillary’s roll call and plotting trouble, with some in the Clinton coterie dissing Obama by planning early departures, before the nominee even speaks....[there was a] weird mood at the convention, with some Democrats nitpicking Obama’s appearance, after Michelle’s knock-out speech and the fabulously cute girls, with a reassuring white family in a town he couldn’t remember at one point. They wondered why he wasn’t wearing a tie, fearing he looked too young, and second-guessed Michelle’s green dress, wondering if it clashed with the blue stage, and fretted that there wasn’t a speaker Monday night attacking McCain and yelling about gas prices."

This is what falling poll numbers through the summer can do.

Bad news for Democrats

The economy grows at a faster rate than expected.
I wonder if the Democrats and the many pundits in the mainstream media who regularly bray about recessions etc will even acknowledge this:

"The economy shifted to a higher gear in the spring, growing at its fastest pace in nearly a year as foreign buyers snapped up U.S. exports and tax rebates spurred shoppers at home. The Commerce Department reported Thursday that gross domestic product, or GDP, increased at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter. The revised reading was much better than the government's initial estimate of a 1.9 percent pace and exceeded economists' expectations for a 2.7 percent growth rate."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

That awesome, smart, disciplined Obama campaign dept

Er--maybe they're not...
First, they plan to have Obama speaking tomorrow night on a stage festooned with a huge, fake Greek-temple-like structure...

And so Victor Davis Hanson of NRO points out exactly why that might not be such a hot idea:

"Let me get this straight: Obama goes to Europe, does a garish outdoor extravaganza before thousands, returns to find himself dubbed a publicity-seeking celebrity, analogous to Paris Hilton—and abruptly begins a tailspin in the polls. And now in reaction, at the greatest moment of his life, he transfers his acceptance speech to an open-air stadium to handle tens of thousands of frenzied fans, replete with Greek temple (Olympian Zeus or Parthenon?) as the backdrop stage, and outspoken rock stars? His handlers now seem as inept in the general elections as they were once adept in the primaries. I don't see how you win Ohio or Michigan with Golden Gate Park circa 1967."

I think too many folks assumed that, if the Obama people could beat Hillary and her juggernaut, they must be a collection of geniuses. Only, what we've found is that Hillary and co. weren't a powerhouse, not by any stretch of the imagination. The Obama campaign's reputation is unearned; and they're demonstrating it, day after day.

More good news from Iraq

On Monday of next week, the U.S. will hand over security for Anbar province in Iraq to Iraqi forces.

Anbar used to be one of the most violent, strife-torn regions in Iraq.
It no longer is; activity by the terrorists there is way down.
We continue to win in Iraq.

We're fierce, we're feminists, and we're... Denver, but not all that happy about things, Hillary and her 18 million votes or no:

"...The Unconventional Women forum, organized by a coalition of feminist groups, gathered at the Denver Performing Arts Center to lick their collective wounds. “Rumors of our progress are greatly exaggerated,” fumed liberal Democratic congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from New York..."

How do our feminist friends ever hope to broaden their support, with that kind of angry, hostile approach???

Hillary's speech

Here's some differing perspectives on Senator Clinton's speech last night to the Democratic convention.

On the whole, it certainly seemed to rouse the Democratic Party faithful; her endorsement of Obama was straightforward and unequivocal, and so the Obama camp has to be satisfied with that, at least. It should help bring Clinton backers back to Obama, at least in the short term.

On the other hand, I'd have to agree with Michael Gerson--the speech was short on testimonials for Barack Obama the person, wasn't it? For example, I don't recall Clinton ever saying that she trusted Obama to be her commander-in-chief (a testimonial he'll need, going up against John McCain). And why is it that Hillary Clinton, with all her experience giving speeches, still talks rather woodenly? Do you ever notice that? For example, when she uses the word "a", it's a long "a"..."I have talked A long time about health care!" It's as if Senator Clinton can never get past the impression, to her audience, that she's reading a speech; not giving it to you in a conversational tone. She's reading something to you; she's not having a conversation with you. I wonder if that, too, hurt her in her quest to be president (one of the many things that did, no doubt).

Liberal intolerance dept

A co-owner of a gay website reveals that he is--gasp!--a liberal Republican!
And he contributed to John McCain's campaign.
So guess what--the gay community exploded in anger, gay users vowed a campaign to ruin the site, and finally the outed gay Republican was forced resign as site co-owner and renounce his support for McCain.

Nothing like liberal tolerance for opposing viewpoints...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Democratic Party "unity" watch (contd)

Sources inside the Hillary camp tell NRO's Byron York that they're STILL not getting enough love:

"I asked whether Team Clinton appreciated Michelle Obama's mention in last night's speech. "Yes, the line was appreciated," I was told. "It was only one sentence, it could have been a bit more than one sentence, but it was appreciated." "However," the source continued, "we had a two-term president who left with a 65 percent approval rating, who Barack Obama forgot to mention when he described Ronald Reagan as a transformational figure, and who was not mentioned at all by Michelle Obama." I'm told that did not sit well in the hotel where a lot of Clinton loyalists are staying. "There was a palpable anger that no one in the Obama camp saw the need to mention that Hillary Clinton cracked the glass ceiling and that Bill Clinton opened the doors to prosperity and peace, and that we owe him a great debt."

I think the Clinton people feel that, in the past month or so, when they've pushed for concessions, the Obama camp has made them; so they're going to keep pushing, as long as they can. Real "unity" there.

Political stat of the day

Roger Simon's examination of Hillary Clinton's defeat by Barack Obama in last spring's primaries is fascinating.

The Obama campaign, for example, was very well-organized.
Did you know that, by October 2007, still 3 months before the Iowa caucuses, one of Obama's managers found that there was one Iowan the campaign had contacted no fewer than 103 times???

Jimmy Carter in 1976 made Iowa what it has become. Carter was an unknown when he announced for president. No one gave him the slightest chance. But Carter practically lived in Iowa for two years, and in January '76 he got more votes than any other actual Democratic candidate in the Iowa caucuses. This gave Carter free media attention and the boost he needed to become a serious candidate; and eventually he became the nominee of his party. This is why Iowa has been huge ever since; candidates dream of grabbing the momentum Iowa will give them. And guess what--that won't change anytime soon. Look at Barack Obama--had he not won Iowa, I doubt he would be the nominee today. But he did. The next time there's a contest, the candidates will go after that Iowa momentum again.

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Roger Simon of The Politico does a multi-part series on why Hillary lost--and finds, for example, that Hillary's coterie of female advisers ("Hillaryland") didn't always work to her advantage:

"...Hillary wanted to stay away from hiring the Friends of Bill (until the campaign got in trouble and then she had reached out to a few of them). “She had an inexperienced staff, but the concern was that she had to run as her own person and not as Bill Clinton’s third term,” an aide who worked for both Hillary and Bill said. “She felt his operation and culture didn’t fit her. As first lady and in her Senate office, she had a very female-centric, matriarchal environment. He is more freewheeling and less structured.” To put it mildly. Solis Doyle had coined the term “Hillaryland” to describe Hillary’s female inner circle. The term caught on, and many stories were done about it. But some were unimpressed, feeling that the Hillaryland talent pool was shallow for a major presidential campaign. An influential member of Congress, who was being wooed furiously by both Clinton and Obama, was invited to meet with the people of Hillaryland. He declined. “That’s OK,” he said. “I’ve already seen ‘The Vagina Monologues.’”'

Monday, August 25, 2008

Democratic Party "unity" watch (contd)

The Politico reports that the Clinton and Obama sides continue to snipe at each other, off-the-record:

"One senior Obama supporter said the Clinton associates negotiating on her behalf act like “Japanese soldiers in the South Pacific still fighting after the war is over.” A prominent Obama backer said some of Clinton’s lieutentants negotiating with the Obama team are “bitter enders” who presume that, rather than the Clintons reconciling themselves to Obama’s victory, it is up to Obama to accommodate them. In fact, some senior veterans of Clinton’s presidential campaign do believe this. “He has not fully reconciled,” said one political operative close to the Clintons, “and he has not demonstrated that he accepts the Clintons and the Clinton wing of the party.”While the Clintons have a relatively easy job in Denver — to deliver gracious speeches and accept what are likely to be loud cheers from their supporters — it is “Obama who has the heavy lifting” this week, this aide said."

Real hearts and flowers there. Again, that Democrats keep feeling the need to blare how unified their party is only proves isn't.

Attn Barack Obama: the trouble with Joe Biden

Lisa Schiffren over on NRO gets at why the choice of Biden might be a pick Senator Obama wishes he didn't make:

"Joe Biden embodies so much of what Obama claims to want to change — in particular, a Washington of time servers in love with process, casual about morality, and acutely aware of self-interest. Biden is no intellectual. He's smart enough for a U.S. senator. But he brings no depth to the ticket. As others have mentioned, he brings Washington experience, which is different than real experience. He has never run anything or made anything happen. He is not presidential material..."

Don't you get the feeling that, once the newness of the Biden pick wears off, many Americans will find him to be a real snoozer who adds nothing? I do.

Pop culture watch: "American Idol" to add 4th judge

It will be Grammy-nominated songwriter Kara DioGuardi.
She's said to be smart, sassy, and will make the judges panel consist of 2 guys and 2 gals--making it even.

What's really going on? 2 things, I suspect: 1] "Idol" producers would be delighted to find a female Simon Cowell. 2] They don't want "Idol" to become stale; hence, they add something new. In American television and showbiz generally, it's "be willing to change--or die."

Summing up the Beijing Olympics

Excellent Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom does it well:

"Has there ever been an Olympics like this? So impressive and so suspicious at the same time? From the Opening Ceremonies, which set a high for visual awesomeness, yet were questioned about lip-syncing children and video-enhanced fireworks; to the gymnastics, in which China hauled in massive gold, but was suspected of using underage children; to the track, in which China’s biggest sports star, Liu Xiang, lined up in the blocks and then pulled out with a sudden injury, which some claim was a national tragedy and others claim was a ruse to avoid losing to a Cuban rival; to the city of Beijing itself, which was full of celebration, yet was virtually devoid of predicted protests because, according to the government, the protesters hadn’t filed the proper paperwork.
I have never, in a 16-day period, witnessed so much and been less sure of what I’ve seen."

Indeed. But we saw some terrific individual and team performances; and I hope also more Americans were made aware of China's human rights abuses, and both came to understand that the Chinese people have a lot to offer us, but their government is a dictatorship and we must continue to remember just what that means.

UPDATE: here's a way to remember what it means--read the Washington Post's Tom Boswell and his summation of the Olympics. Read the whole thing--but for now, begin here:

"The current Chinese culture doesn't just reveal itself in the middle of the night. All day long, every 20 minutes (to the split second), hundreds of buses run back and forth from media hotels to the Olympic venues. There's even a special "Olympic lane" for all official traffic to the Games. Because the Chinese are obsessed with appearing efficient, the number, size and frequency of buses comically exceed the need. I often had a bus to myself. However, I can barely believe what I saw Saturday when, by accident, I had to return to my hotel at 1 p.m., when almost no reporter has reason to leave the Olympics. Several football fields full of buses all pulled out simultaneously, headed to hotels all over Beijing, theoretically transporting media. But I was the only rider on any bus I saw. Dozens were empty. They still made their runs. They still wasted fuel. They still clogged traffic. But nobody, in an activity as state-controlled and Communist Party-scrutinized as these Olympics, would deviate from the original plan, no matter how stupid it might be. In decades at The Post, this is the first event I've covered at which I was certain that the main point of the exercise was to co-opt the Western media, including NBC, with a splendidly pretty, sparsely attended, completely controlled sports event inside a quasi-military compound. We had little alternative but to be a conduit for happy-Olympics, progressive-China propaganda. I suspect it worked."

Remember Boswell's anecdote. Because this is the problem with communism, with rigid state control, with rigid state planning and bureaucracy. It leads to waste, to doing stupid things merely because they are in accordance with the plan--and nobody has the freedom to deviate from it. This is exactly what those such as Russell Kirk and Friedrich von Hayek and others wrote about so long ago. They remain relevant to us today.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beware of China-love

NY Times columnist Tom Friedman is a little bit in love with China, following these successful Olympic games:

"That said, there are some things we could learn from China, namely the ability to focus on big, long-term, nation-building goals and see them through. A Chinese academic friend tells me that the success of the Olympics is already prompting some high officials to argue that only a strong, top-down, Communist Party-led China could have organized the stunning building projects around these Olympics and the focused performance of so many different Chinese athletes. For instance, the Chinese have no tradition of rowing teams, but at these Games, out of nowhere, Beijing fielded a women's quadruple sculls crew that won China's first Olympic gold medal in rowing."

Hmmm. Read the whole thing. Be careful. Yes, China accomplished a lot in hosting these Olympics, and created some impressive facilities and amazing spectacles. But at what cost? Sure, the air was clean in Beijing--because the government ordered motorists off the streets and summarily closed factories. The people affected had nothing to say about it. Sure, the Cube and the Bird's Nest were something--but they were built at least partially because the Beijing government ordered people out of their private homes and then bulldozed them. The people affected had nothing to say about it. Yes, Friedman acknowledges this and says he just wants American democracy to "work better." But I worry when people complain about our media and our "news cycle", and imply that our democratic fractiousness harms us. Yes, such divisions make legislative accomplishments come slowly. But you know what? I'll gladly take that--because conservatives know, as Russell Kirk taught us long ago, that change ought to be slow. It ought to come with difficulty. It ought to come with deliberation. Only then can we be sure that we've considered all alternatives and done the right thing.

Don't despair about the stuff that comes along with democracy, like a lot of debate in legislatures and slow progress and the back-and-forth in the news media. Don't get tempted to wish for some strongman to come and sweep it all away and "get things done." That's what the German people wanted once. They got Hitler. That's what some Chinese people still want. They got their dictatorial government. Yes, some of the accomplishments of the Chinese people are impressive. But beware what you "learn" from it.

Democratic Party "unity" watch (contd)

Some Clinton supporters are less than thrilled at Obama's choice of Joe Biden as VP:

""It's a total diss to Sen. Clinton, in my opinion," said Diane Mantouvalos, co-founder of the Just Say No Deal Coalition. "It just speaks volumes about how Barack Obama doesn't stand for anything." Mantouvalos, of Miami, is part of an Internet movement of Clinton supporters who refuse to back Obama, regardless of pleas from Clinton herself. Mantouvalos is in Denver, where the Democratic National Convention is scheduled to start Monday, stoking anti-Obama sentiment. She said the selection of a Washington insider undermines Obama's call for change. "It was a desperate move," Mantouvalos said."

An important stat to keep in mind as the Democratic Convention approaches

Brought as always by the invaluable Michael Barone--what kind of "bounce" in the polls can Senator Obama expect after this week's convention concludes:

"Gallup poll data shows that nominees got a 5 percent or better bounce from 14 of the 16 national conventions between 1976 and 2004. And that's even for nominees that in retrospect seem less than inspiring."

So if Obama doesn't get AT LEAST a five point bounce from this week--really, at least a 10 point bounce--you will have to question just how successful of a convention it's been. Keep an eye on it.

Racism watch

Yet another liberal writer prepares rationalizations in case Barack Obama loses, and naturally puts the racism charge at the core of his argument:

"Many have discoursed on what an Obama victory could mean for America. We would finally be able to see our legacy of slavery, segregation, and racism in the rearview mirror. Our kids would grow up thinking of prejudice as a nonfactor in their lives. The rest of the world would embrace a less fearful and more open post-post-9/11 America. But does it not follow that an Obama defeat would signify the opposite? If Obama loses, our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth. His defeat would say that when handed a perfect opportunity to put the worst part of our history behind us, we chose not to."

Really, now, Mr. Weisberg? If Obama loses, "equal opportunity" becomes a "myth"? Wow. So the fact that Barack Obama is: 1] a United States Senator; 2] a wealthy man, helped along by the well-paid jobs held by his wife; 3] a man who won a bunch of primaries and thus nailed down the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008; 4] one of the most well-known persons in the world, akin to a rock star, a celebrity...

All of that means nothing???? Really?
Don't let the left get away with this is-you-don't-vote-for-Obama-and-if-he-doesn't-win-we're-all-racists argument.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden his time

So Barack Obama's pick for vice-president is indeed Joe Biden.
Well. It's not a horrible pick, and won't hurt Obama, certainly in the short run.
Obviously the campaign hopes Biden gives the ticket more experience, and will comfort voters because of it. have to wonder.
A big part of Obama's appeal to voters is youth, change, a new kind of politician.
But Joe Biden is 65, loquacious, a senator in 30 years, as much a part of Washington DC as anything and anyone. Does that really fit into the narrative that Barack Obama has sought to establish? I wonder.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Barack Obama's foreign policy liberalism

He put it on display again in his most recent comments on Russia.
Victor Davis Hanson of NRO takes it apart today:

"We didn't have to wait long for the much anticipated morally-equivalent message from Barack Obama: “We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies. They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.” Let me get this straight: getting a Senate and House majority to authorize a bipartisan joint war-resolution, going to the UN, assembling a coalition, having a national and world debate on the wisdom of such an operation from December 2001 to March 2003, and then attacking a genocidal dictator, and staying on to foster a constitutional democracy are apparently the same "charge" "example" as an autocracy suddenly invading its democratic neighbor during the Olympics, and staying on to annex some of its territory?"

And I have to agree--usually Obama keeps his liberalism under wraps. But bit by bit, it has begun to leak out--equating what America did with regard to Iraq to a lawless invasion, implying that some rural people believe in God and gun control only because they're "frustrated", etc. He very much holds the ideas of the left elite. We should expose this as much as we can.

At the sports desk: an amazing story

The San Francisco 49ers name J.T. O'Sullivan to be their starting quarterback for the regular season opener.

O'Sullivan has never started a regular-season NFL game before.
Most fans probably had never heard of him before last year---in 2007, he got into a couple of games with Detroit. Good for him for earning this opportunity.
But...why is San Fran so enamored with him? Yes, partly because he's been impressive this pre-season...
But mainly, last year he was in Detroit because Mike Martz liked him, and Martz was the Lions' offensive coordinator. Now, this year, he has that job with the Niners.
Martz frankly bombed with Detroit. It will be interesting to see if he does any better with San Fran. My guess? Don't bet on it.

Do we really want to be energy independent? (continued)

A very well-informed and thoughtful e-mailer responds to John Stossel's points of yesterday with the below, from a libertarian point of view--see what you think:

...I think Stossel is wrong in his analysis of the energy situation. I respect Stossel because he is normally an able defender of libertarian principles and free markets. But in this case he is wrong. Stossel makes the mistake of asuming that oil is a commodity like any other, akin to orange juice or rice. It is not, and these are the differences:

1.) 80 percent of the supply of oil is controlled by a cartel (OPEC) that has, with some success, limited the production to keep prices higher than they would be in a truly free market. No entity can corner the market on orange juice or rice because there are too many independent producers and more supply can be created by simply planting and growing more.

2.) If an entity did corner the market on o.j. or rice, and successfully limited the supply in an attempt to raise prices, many consumers would substitute with apple juice, soda, coffee, water, etc. -- or beans, potatoes, or pasta, etc. But if OPEC corners the market on oil, we have NO CHOICE but to buy it anyway because 99 percent of our transportation fleet runs on oil. We cannot substitute, so all we can do to limit our exposure to rising prices is cut back on usage. Unfortunately, our entire economy is built around motorized transportation so we cannot conserve significantly without damage to our economy and lifestyle.

3.) By most expert accounts we are near or past the point of peak oil. The supply is dwindling and becoming increasingly costly to extrude, making the oil market quite different from a normal commodities market. If the demand for orange juice or rice goes up, suppliers will grow more of these goods. We can't grow crude oil.

4.) Most of America's untapped oil reserves are under the control of the government, and much of it is off limits to production due to ecological concerns (real or phony, it doesn't matter in this context). No such controls apply to orange juice or rice production because there are no environmental concerns and entrepreneurs can supply all demand using private land.

5.) Oil is a strategic commodity, vital to our economic and military security. Obviously, that is not true of orange juice or rice.

The question free marketeers such as Stossel should ask themselves is, "How can we get free market forces working again in the transportation energy market?" The simplest thing we can do is deal with the number 2 problem above. If we can change the market so that consumers can substitute other fuels for oil-based ones, we will have a free market.

Fortunately, we can do that very simply by mandating that the auto makers build "flex fuel" cars that can run on gas, ethanol, methanol, and other alcohol based fuels. This feature can be added to any car at the time of manufacture for less than $100 and it would immediately create an explosion of entrepreneurial activity in the liquid fuel market. We would see massive increases in methanol from coal and garbage, and ethanol from sugars, algae, etc, along with other biofuels. And if we mandated that cars be flex-fuel plug-in hybrids, we would expand consumer choices even further because we could then use nuclear, geothermal, solar, wind, natural gas, and coal as transportation fuels via electrical power plants.

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Guess who, in truth, apparently never made it to Obama's short list for the vice-presidential nomination:

"There’s one Democrat who would seem to have little or no chance of being picked by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to be his running mate – his former opponent, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). But it’s not for the reason you think. Obama has often said, most recently on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on July 27, that Clinton “would be on anybody’s short list.” But apparently not his. “She was never vetted,” a Democratic official reported. “She was not asked for a single piece of paper. She and Senator Obama have never had a single conversation about it. How would he know if she’d take it?” The official also said Clinton never met with Obama’s vetting team of Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy. And the official said she was never asked for medical records or for any financial 2008 information about her or former President Bill Clinton. The Clintons also were not asked about donors to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library."

And there's another reason why the Clintons weren't picked--fear of more Clinton scandals.

More signs of a close race

Obama has suspended advertising in several battleground states, including Florida.
We'll see if this is a permanent suspension; but if the campaign is conceding that Florida is likely going McCain, then this election will indeed be close, all the way.

For this race to be an Obama blowout, he'd have to win Florida.

Antici-pay-yay-shun...'s making you wait.
Barack Obama says he's decided on a running mate.
No word yet on who that will be.
He's just building anticipation and therefore a bigger audience, folks. The oldest trick in the book.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Some nerve

Good grief--Barack Obama goes on the attack today, on this point:

"Somebody asked John McCain, 'How many houses do you have?' And he said, 'I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my staff,'" Obama said with a tone of incredulousness at an outdoor event here. "If you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong," he said. "But if you're like me, and you got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, then you might have a different perspective."

The McCain team meanwhile responded:

"We're delighted to have a real estate debate with Barack Obama," said spokesman Brian Rogers, adding that the press should focus on Obama's house. "It's a frickin' mansion. He doesn't tell people that. You have a mansion you bought in a shady deal with a convicted felon."

I would have added that, as I recall it, Michelle Obama had a job with a Chicago health care facility recently that paid her over $200,000 per year. Have the Obamas given away all their riches to help the poor? Not that I recall. When they have, they can lecture others on their wealth and their responsibilities.

Do we really want to be energy independent?

John Stossel made the point yesterday that, well, maybe not:

"Most every politician and pundit says "energy independence" is a great idea. Presidents have promised it for 35 years. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were self-sufficient, protected from high prices, supply disruptions and political machinations? The hitch is that even if the United States were energy independent, it would be protected from none of those things. To think otherwise is to misunderstand basic economics and the global marketplace.
To be for "energy independence" is to be against trade. But trade makes us as safe. Crop destruction from this summer's floods in the Midwest should remind us of the folly of depending only on ourselves. Achieving "energy independence" would expose us to unnecessary risks -- such as storms that knock out oil refineries or droughts that create corn -- and ethanol -- shortages. Trade also saves us money. "We import energy for a reason," says the Cato Institute's energy expert, Jerry Taylor, "It's cheaper than producing it here at home. A governmental war on energy imports will, by definition, raise energy prices". Anyway, a "domestic energy only" policy (call it "Drain America First"?) is a fantasy. America's demand for oil is too great for us to supply ourselves. Electricity we could provide. Not with windmills and solar panels -- they are not yet close to providing enough -- but coal and nuclear power could produce America's electricity. But cars need oil. We don't have nearly enough."

Yep. Read the whole thing. By the way, most of the oil we import doesn't come from the Middle East. It comes from Canada and Mexico.

Yet more evidence of a close race

NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Obama only leading McCain by three points.
And the Fox News poll shows the exact same margin--Obama up by only three.
Where are all those people who said this race would be a blowout, anyway...
I still think though that, in the end, the odds are that Obama will win.
But it should be encouraging to conservatives that it's largely been conservative attacks on Obama that McCain's been making (suggesting that Obama's position on Iraq or Russia are too weak; that he's wrong on offshore drilling; that Obama will be a tax-raiser), and those attacks have helped narrow the gap. Don't despair, conservatives; there remain a lot of people out there who agree with you.

At the sports desk: U.S. women's soccer wins Olympic gold

They beat probably their top foe, Brazil, 1-0 this morning to win the gold medal.

It was exciting. I watched it this morning with my son (who was mainly playing on the floor, but still...) And you know for whom I was most happy? U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. Remember her? Last year, she was involved in this big fuss in the women's World Cup. Her coach benched her for the World Cup semifinal, for no good reason--Solo had been playing well. But the coach claimed he wanted to go with the more experienced keeper (Briana Scurry).

Well. The U.S. lost that game, and lost badly. And immediately after the game, Solo gave her opinion about it to the media. She said frankly she believed it was the wrong decision. For this, she was roundly criticized, benched by the coach, etc etc etc.

But isn't she vindicated today? The coach who benched her last year? Gone. Fired. Solo meanwhile was the keeper all through Olympic play, helping to get her team to today's gold medal final...and today she made two huge saves in the game against Brazil, and was instrumental in earning her team the victory. She proved something today. I'm glad for her, for her hard work, and for the team's hard work. USA!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

American credibility abroad: alive and well

Some of my liberal acquaintances lately have been suggesting that American moral credibility overseas is gone--due to Iraq, etc. Others have suggested that this recent international blowup between Russia and the Georgian Republic has somehow rebounded to the disadvantage of the United States. Well, they couldn't be more wrong, on both counts--as the NY Times explains today in an article on Poland's reaction to the whole thing:

"But the events in the Caucasus, and threats of a nuclear attack by a Russian general after the announcement of a deal to place an American missile defense base here, have cast a pall of doubt over a Poland that, flush and confident, has taken its place in the West, specifically on the side of America, as an ally rather than a vassal. As the United States and Poland formally signed the missile defense agreement on Wednesday, over vociferous objections from Moscow, polls in the daily newspaper Dziennik showed public opinion swinging sharply in the past month, from opposition to the missile base to support. “Before the Georgia invasion, I was against the installation of the missile shield in Poland, but now, after the events there, I feel threatened from the East, and I don’t regret the decision,” said Julian Damentko, 26, a student out this week for a walk in Saski Park here. Poland, the nation in which the Solidarity trade union hammered the first cracks into the old Soviet bloc, has been feeling its strength as a leader of the New Europe of former Soviet-sphere states. But since the Georgia crisis, this largest of post-Communist European Union members has moved to cement its relationship to action-oriented America and not just the tentative bureaucracies of Europe and NATO."

Veepstakes (update)

Yesterday I suggested that Senator Obama's vice-presidential list was likely down to Kaine, Bayh, and Biden.

But--don't forget about this lady, Kathleen Sebelius.
She's still getting mentioned (if you follow the link above, note it's the NY Times, no less); and it wouldn't surprise me if Obama wanted to make more of a splash with his VP pick, and he could do so a bit picking someone Midwestern, moderate/conservative, but...a woman; not a male.
We'll see. I don't think Sebelius would be a game-changer, either, but she'd create a bit more buzz than the others being bandied about.

The face of dictatorship (continued)

Once again the Chinese government shows it's true colors, Olympics or no:

"Two elderly Chinese women have been sentenced to a year of “re-education through labor” after they repeatedly sought a permit to demonstrate in one of the official Olympic protest areas, according to family members and human rights advocates. The women, Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, had made five visits to the police this month in an effort to get permission to protest what they contended was inadequate compensation for the demolition of their homes in Beijing. During their final visit on Monday, public security officials informed them that they had been given administrative sentences for “disturbing the public order,” according to Li Xuehui, Ms. Wu’s son. Mr. Li said his mother and Ms. Wang, who used to be neighbors before their homes were demolished to make way for a redevelopment project, were allowed to return home but were told they could be sent to a detention center at any moment. “Can you imagine two old ladies in their 70s being re-educated through labor?” he asked. He said Ms. Wang was nearly blind. A man who answered the phone at the Public Security Bureau declined to give out information about the case."

I'm glad that some in the news media are continuing to publicize cases like this, despite all the good feelings engendered by the Olympics. Perhaps it's good that the Olympics were held in China--it's served also to remind us (again, because we always need it) of just what dictatorship is.

Good response

So the U.S. makes a deal with Poland to establish a missile-defense base there, and Russia gets angry, threatening that its response will go "beyond diplomacy." But don't you have to like the calm, measured response of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice?:

"Rice dismissed the blustery comments from Russian leaders who say Warsaw's hosting of 10 U.S. interceptor missiles just 115 miles from Russia's westernmost frontier opens the country up to attack. Such comments "border on the bizarre frankly," Rice said, speaking to reporters traveling with her in Warsaw. "When you threaten Poland, you perhaps forget that it is not 1988," Rice said. "It's 2008 and the United States has a ... firm treaty guarantee to defend Poland's territory as if it was the territory of the United States. So it's probably not wise to throw these threats around."

Just so.

Like I said, it's a very close race

A new poll shows John McCain actually leading Barack Obama:

"In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday. McCain leads Obama among likely U.S. voters by 46 percent to 41 percent, wiping out Obama's solid 7-point advantage in July and taking his first lead in the monthly Reuters/Zogby poll."

It's important not to get carried away--this poll may be an "outlier"; that is, a poll that due to some unusual circumstances doesn't really reflect reality. I think it just shows this is a very close race, that could go either way. Another possibility: have you been watching the Olympics coverage on NBC and all its associated cable channels? Have you noticed all the McCain ads running? I have. Maybe others have, too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Still no sign of game-changing

Barack Obama is set to announce, soon, his vice-presidential pick.
By all accounts, he's mainly considering Kaine, Biden, and Bayh.
All very safe, relatively conservative, picks.
Which will work out okay for Sen. Obama if in fact this race is his to lose, he's ahead, and so the right thing to do is to play it safe.

But if this is going to be a different race than that, then he may regret this apparently booo-ring pick.

Celeb watch: the definition of narcissism

Jennifer Lopez doesn't think 8 gold medals mean much:

"Lopez, who appeared on "Good Morning America" Aug. 18 to discuss her preparations for the Malibu Triathlon, was overheard saying after the segment that she “couldn’t understand why everyone is talking about that swimmer,” according to a GMA source. “She couldn’t come up with (eight-time gold-medal winner Michael) Phelps’ name, and then she yammered on about how she was the one training for a triathlon just six months after giving birth, and how that was the big story right now, not ‘the swimmer.’ ”

Maybe her mirror broke.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The national security gap

McCain now polls much better than does Barack Obama on who would be better able to handle the job of commander in chief.

Partly, this explains why McCain and Obama continue to be neck and neck in the polls.
I think Obama was also hurt by some of his earlier statements, too--for example, that he would talk and negotiate with anyone, anywhere (even with Holocaust-denying Iran). I think this raised questions concerning his toughness and naivete, and I think conservatives should continue to hammer Obama on these points.

At the sports desk: NFL updates

The Chicago Bears have decided: Kyle Orton will be their starting QB.
Rex Grossman to be the backup. I don't completely blame Bears brass--I watched Grossman's performance vs Seattle a couple of days ago, and he didn't look good. But all this shows is that the Bears at the QB position still have issues; because Orton, in that same game, didn't look much better. Look for the Bears to lack explosiveness (to say the least!) in the passing game again this season.

And everyone's talking about Peyton Manning's knee, and will he be ready for week 1.
But note that Tom Brady has a bit of a leg injury too, and it's unclear if he'll play in this week's pre-season game (he has yet to play in a pre-season game).

Beware of the bear

The other day, it looked like there was a cease-fire agreement in place between Russia and Georgia. But remember what we said here--they key for determining whether this agreement was any good was simple: would the Russians actually withdraw.

Today there's evidence there's in fact no withdrawal.
My suspicion is that the Russians are trying to intimidate not only the Georgians, but other eastern European states as well, trying to keep them from drawing closer to the West.
President Bush will have to continue to take a tough line.

The face of a dictatorship (Chinese version)

The Chinese authorities, prior to the Olympics, said that sure, there can be protests--but you have to apply for a permit, and protest only in certain designated areas.

So--so far, there have been 77 protest applications. None of them have been approved.

Update: the Chinese government is also reported to be confiscating Bibles from incoming missionaries.

Perhaps the Chinese decided that, since they're displaying their dictatorial ways, they might as well go all the way and show their lack of commitment to religious freedom, too.

At the sports desk: their season is over

Detroit Tigers fans begin leaving yesterday's game en masse after 5 innings.
And why not--the Tigers and their pitching were getting bombed again by the Orioles; the team once again played under .500 ball on this home stand; any hopes of a miracle run for the playoffs are gone.

It pains me to say it as a Tigers fan, but--this year, this team is about the biggest bust in baseball.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Misplaced confidence?

David Broder reports today that the Obama campaign team is a "well-oiled machine" (according to the Post's headline writer, anyway) and very, very confident:

"The Obama people believe that McCain has squandered an opportunity to make a positive case for his own election in the many months since he secured the votes for the Republican nomination. David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, argues that McCain is already feeling a backlash to his "negative attacks" and that the resulting skepticism may undercut any potential benefit he derives from the debates this fall."

Hmmm. Really? Several weeks ago, Barack Obama led John McCain by some 5-10 points in the polls; some had it even a bigger spread. Now, today, Gallup for example has the race even.
As I report elsewhere here today, many in the Democratic Party are critical of the Obama campaign, for being too passive.

There's confidence, and there's...overconfidence.

Sunday update

Senator Evan Bayh jumps at the chance to attack John McCain on one of the Sunday shows.
Why? Not simply because Democrats had wondered if he had the fortitude to go after McCain; but because he wants the vice-presidential nomination from Senator Obama, and is auditioning for it.

So why hasn't the prosecutor in the case, or Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, been able to broker a deal with embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick? Simple--Kilpatrick seeks a "deal" in which he gets off almost scot-free, and has very little penalty. Details here.
And good for Michigan officials for not caving in to the corrupt Mr. Kilpatrick. Sometimes people are eager to "move on" from a crisis such as this, that they'll accept almost any deal. But in this no deal is better than a bad one.

And what is there left to be said about Michael Phelps? 8 for 8 in gold medals.
It took 36 years, then, for someone to equal and surpass Mark Spitz (who earned 7 golds in 1972). I suspect it will take much longer than that for anyone to match Phelps--which tells you how monumental is his accomplishment.

Some Democrats are definitely nervous about how Barack Obama is doing right now in the presidential race. "Gov. Phil Bredesen, Democrat of Tennessee: “Instead of giving big speeches at big stadiums, he needs to give straight-up 10-word answers to people at Wal-Mart about how he would improve their lives.” Think about this--is there one issue, that you can think of, about which you can immediately summon up the notion of what Obama would do about it? (example--back in 1980, when people thought of Reagan, they knew--"cut taxes; tougher on defense.") Nope, I can't think of one either.

Brett Favre looks good in his pre-season debut with the New York Jets.
I recorded this from the NFL Network, and it watched it a bit ago; and he did look good. His passes had zip, he moved the chains, and while he was in there he got the Jets in and out of the huddle, no false starts, etc. Not bad for a guy only with the team a week.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sloppy thinking alert

From an article in today's Washington Post, in which one of its liberal reporters writes happily about young evangelicals perhaps not voting so Republican this time:

"I went to school with a lot of agnostic people and after Bush, they were like 'no' " to religion, said Brittany Kelley, 22, who recently graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design. She is leaning toward McCain because she shares his economic views and is afraid that Obama will raise taxes. But in a lowered voice she said she does not feel the way some of the other young evangelicals do when it comes to all social issues. "I have a lot of friends who are homosexual, and if they wanted to get married, that's okay," Kelley said. "They are not going to stop it because it is illegal."

Hmmm. Well, I assume this young lady is opposed to abortion--most evangelicals are.
I imagine then that she has some friends who might seek abortions, too.
Are those "okay", too, then? Because you're not likely to stop them completely, either--even if you make them illegal.

See the problem with that thinking?

Weekend update

Russia and Georgia appear to have a cease-fire deal in place.
But the key is this: will Russian troops actually withdraw.

The Georgia Bulldogs have college football's pre-season # 1 ranking.
But beware--frequently, the team ranked #1 before the season starts...doesn't wind up there at the end.

A Georgian refugee says, "America is the only light left for Georgia."
So much for the notion of America lacking moral credibility, as many of my liberal acquaintances claim. People overseas know to whom to look for humanitarian aid; and they know they'll get it.

An Idaho child killer writes that he's driven by the "hatred" in his heart.
Yet some of our progressive friends claim everyone can be "rehabilitated."

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean refers to the Republican Party as the "white" party.
And Democrats such as he try to claim their party as a vehicle of racial reconciliation. Yeah, right.

More Democratic Party "unity" watching--Democratic congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, on why she plans to vote for Hillary Clinton on the first ballot at the Democratic convention: “I believe there are a lot of supporters for Hillary among the superdelegates, especially now that they’ve agreed to place her name in nomination. I think half the House Democrats would probably be Hillary supporters, especially women. ... I felt she was the most experienced and the best candidate and I still feel that way.”

Speaking of the Yankees...they lose again, to the Royals no less, 4-3.
The playoffs seem further away than ever; former starter Melky Cabrera is sent to the minors.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The nature of a dictatorship

Several protesters are arrested in Beijing for supposedly illegal demonstrations, displaying the Tibetan flag, etc. They are alternately given free KFC fried chicken and screamed at by cops. Eventually they are told to leave immediately, and that they must pay for their plane tickets themselves. The detainees refuse. And then:

"About seven hours after being picked up, Hocevar and five others were marched to a plane to New York. Although they also refused to purchase tickets, police simply took their wallets, extracted their bank and credit cards, and used them to complete the purchases. "I have reported my card stolen to the bank," Hocevar said. "I will contest the charges."

Good for him.
Dictatorships always find new ways to oppress. But it's good that the Olympics allow us, also, to have a little window into this Chinese version of a dictatorship. It reminds us of what totalitarianism is. We can never have too many reminders.

Overseas watch: the divide in India

In India, there's a gap between rich and poor that remains simply astonishing:

"Step outside, and you see sedans reeking of new affluence. Inside are drivers, many of them asleep because they work 20-hour shifts, waking up at 6 a.m. to catch a train, taking the boss to and from work, then to his dinner, then to drinks, then dropping him off at home at 1 a.m. and catching a taxi to go back to the tenements. At 1 a.m. back in the boss’s apartment, the hallways are often littered with servants and sweepers who work inside by day but sleep outside by night. They learn to sleep on cold tile, with tenants stepping over them when returning from evenings out. India may be changing at a disorienting pace, but one thing remains stubbornly the same: a tendency to treat the hired help like chattel, to behave as though some humans were born to serve and others to be served. “Indians are perhaps the world’s most undemocratic people, living in the world’s largest and most plural democracy,” Sudhir Kakar and Katharina Kakar, two well-known scholars of Indian culture, wrote in a recent book, “The Indians: Portrait of a People.”

Remember this the next time our progressive friends denounce American "inequality."
And the situation in India today shouldn't surprise, in any case; remember, this is a nation with a culture in which there used to be rigid castes and divisions in society; a place where those labeled "untouchables" were simply forbidden to rise above the level of those holding the most menial jobs. Why? Simply because they were born into that caste. Things change slowly.

At the sports desk: Yankees in trouble

The New York Yankees are seeking their 14th straight trip to the postseason, but it looks less likely every day; and a couple of interesting stats reflect the problem, reports the NY Times:

"The Yankees started Thursday six games behind Boston in the wild-card race after 121 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they had never before been six games behind in that race at least 100 games into a season. By the end of the day they were six and a half games out because Boston defeated Texas, 10-0. Yet the wild card is the more realistic route to the playoffs, because the deficit in the American League East is even worse. The Yankees started the day nine games behind Tampa Bay in the division, and the deficit grew to nine and a half when the Rays beat Oakland. According to Elias, it is the first time they have been that far out this late in a season since the morning of Sept. 7, 1997, when they trailed Baltimore by nine and a half."

The Yankees' long run earning postseason berths deserves respect.
I don't like the Yankees, believe me; far from it. But we Yankee-haters are in a unique position as we head towards the playoffs, aren't we? On the one hand, we love watching the Yankees...because we love to root against them. So it's been fun to watch them struggle this season, and it's fun to see them with a huge mountain to climb to make the playoffs.

On the other hand, when the playoffs come, and there are no Yankees--who will we root against???

Well, given the Bronx Bombers have been in the postseason for 13 straight years, certainly we can get along without them for one year, at least. Right?

Evading responsibility dept

The family of a gay teen slain by a classmate blames the school for his death. Why?

"The family of a gay teenager who was fatally shot in class blames the school district for allowing their son to wear makeup and feminine clothing to school — factors the family claims led to the death."

No word on what role mom and dad possessed concerning the clothes their son wore.
Fundamental: parents can't punt their familial responsibilities to schools, or to anyone else.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's really going on regarding Russia's invasion of Georgia?

I think Victor Davis Hanson on NRO the other day got at it quite well:

"The long-suffering Russian people resent the loss of global influence and empire, but not necessarily the Soviet Union and its gulags that once ensured such stature. The invasion restores a sense of Russian nationalism and power to its populace without the stink of Stalinism, and is indeed cloaked as a sort of humanitarian intervention on behalf of beleaguered Ossetians. There will be no Russian demonstrations about an “illegal war,” much less nonsense about “blood for oil,” but instead rejoicing at the payback of an uppity former province that felt its Western credentials somehow trumped Russian tanks. How ironic that the Western heartthrob, the old Marxist Mikhail Gorbachev, is now both lamenting Western encouragement of Georgian “aggression,” while simultaneously gloating over the return of Russian military daring."

Yep. Read the whole thing. Hanson points out that this crisis advertises, again, the weakness of NATO. True--and I think there's a simple reason for that (still): the end of the Cold War. NATO was a (necessary) invention of western anti-communism. It was very simple: an alliance designed to help keep in check Soviet expansionism. And it worked very well for over 40 years. But what function does it have if there ain't no USSR anymore? Russia today isn't communist; there's no agreement in the West on its aims, or on what threat it poses. Indeed, there's no agreement in the West, really, on just what NATO is supposed to do these days. And so, when crises erupt, NATO and its members tend to flail around a bit and accomplish little.

I am glad to see the Bush administration taking a stern line vs Mr. Putin and the Russians--let's hope it's effective.

Hear, hear

You've probably all seen the headline today--population experts and census-studying types project that by 2042, white people in America will be in the minority. Well, big news, if the projections hold. But one NRO Cornerite had the best reaction to this news I've seen:

" conclusion ought to be this: In an America that is increasingly multiracial and multiethnic — and where, moreover, individual Americans are increasingly multiracial and multiethnic — it is simply untenable to have a legal regime that sorts and classifies U.S. citizens according to skin color and national origin and then treats some of us better and others of us worse on that basis. Now, more than ever, the national motto must be e pluribus unum. John McCain agrees with this. And Senator Obama?"

Indeed. And let's think about this, too: affirmative-action policies have been at work in America for nearly 40 years now. What exactly have they accomplished? Oh, well, but you don't understand, claim their defenders; such policies are needed to wipe out racism and end discrimination. And besides, they're only temporary, they add. Really? These "temporary" policies have been in effect now for nearly 4 decades. And the same people who claim AA is essential to combat racism need to figure out why they keep arguing with themselves--since they claim in their next breath that racism remains very, very strong in America and a constant threat. What? How can that be, after 40 years of affirmative action? The fact is that classifying Americans according to skin color and national origin and treating them differently on that basis makes racial hostilities worse, not better; and leads to continued discrimination, not less of it. Maybe some day the new racialists will grasp this.

Democratic Party "unity" watch (contd)

Barack Obama has to make yet another concession to the Clinton forces:

"Hillary Clinton supporters will get their chance for catharsis at the Democratic National Convention in Denver as the New York senator’s name will be included in the nomination. A joint statement issued Thursday by Clinton and Barack Obama said Clinton will be included because they want to ensure that “the voices of all 35 million people who participated in this historic primary election are respected and heard in Denver.” “I am convinced that honoring Senator Clinton’s historic campaign in this way will help us celebrate this defining moment in our history and bring the party together in a strong united fashion,” Obama said."

Heh. This is only about two weeks after Obama told the press that he didn't really think there needed to be much "catharsis" at the convention. And only a few weeks after Clinton had indicated she wouldn't have her name placed in nomination...

But I suspect the Clintons have figured out that Sen. Obama can be rolled, and that he'll do a lot to "appease" them. How much more? We'll keep our eyes peeled.

Not that big of a deal

So John McCain would consider choosing the pro-choice Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania as his VP candidate.

Well. Of course, he's only considering him; he hasn't chosen him yet. No reason to get too excited about it yet. And I also noted this statement from McCain:

"I think it's a fundamental tenet of our party to be pro-life but that does not mean we exclude people from our party that are pro-choice," McCain said. He called the gap between the two sides a disagreement — "albeit strong."

As long as McCain in his actions stays within, and acts within, that principle, I don't think conservatives should be bothered too much. Of course, one problem is that McCain throughout his career has tended to stray from conservative principles. We'll have to watch and see what happens here, but I'm not that worried about this yet.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Democratic Party "unity" watch (contd)

Maureen Dowd makes a persuasive case that Hillary and co. are trying to sabotage the upcoming Dem convention and Obama's big moment there:

"Now they’ve made Barry’s convention all about them — their dissatisfaction and revisionism and barely disguised desire to see him fail. Whatever insincere words of support the Clintons muster, their primal scream gets louder: He can’t win! He can’t close the deal! We told you so!"

Read the whole thing.

So are there really a lot of pro-Obama Republicans?

Aha--I suspected as much. The answer appears to be "no." Aside from a tiny few high-profile, national Republicans such as Chuck Hagel or Susan Eisenhower, there aren't many "Obamacans"...and I sure haven't come across many ordinary Republicans going for Obama in my readings or travels.

Here's a quote from the linked article above:

"But are there enough rank-and-file Republicans whispering their support at Obama rallies to actually make a difference on Election Day? As I discovered from examination the last 18 months of head-to-head general election polls, the answer seems to be "no." In fact, John McCain's share of the Democratic vote has typically--and surprisingly--been larger than Obama's share of the Republican vote. In other words, it's not that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright scared the Obamacan masses off, as some pundits have theorized--it's that they never existed (in any unprecedented way) to begin with."

Read the whole thing--he presents solid evidence to back up his claim.
Or, put it this way--if one is going to write about Obama Republicans, it would be equally as valid to write about McCain Democrats--there are at least as many of them.

At the sports desk: the NFL's Indy Colts gotta have Hart

So he set all kinds of rushing records playing high school football in New York state, and then in college at the University of Michigan. Yet the Wolverine's star running back Mike Hart was only a 6th round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts this past spring.

But guess what--the Colts are glad they got him.

I'm not surprised. Mike Hart is an example of something enduring in sports. There are guys who, according to the stopwatch, don't run as fast as others; who aren't as tall as others. Hart has been hearing he's too small his entire life. But on the field, he's always gotten it done. And he'll continue to do so for the Colts. It sounds like he's on his way to making the team.

You know, Mike Hart was hurt a lot last year, in his senior season for the Maize and Blue. So was Chad Henne. This is not to make excuses; some of Michigan's stumbles last year (particularly vs Appalachian State) were inexcusable. But when the team came together and everyone was healthy, Michigan was a good football team. You saw that in last New Year's Day's Capital One Bowl, when the Wolverines beat a good Florida team with Heisman winner Tim Tebow. That was a game in which Florida was heavily favored. But Mike Hart had an excellent game...

Hart, you might say, provided a lot of heart...for Michigan. He'll do that for the Colts, too. Can't just look at 40 yard dash times etc, guys.

Government waste, exhibit # 123,456 (or thereabouts)

The Gary, Indiana School Corporation is revoking credit cards issued to school administrators. Gee, how come? Well, in order to reduce spending. How will this help? See for yourself:

"A recent report by The Times of Munster found that administrators charged nearly $57,500 to credit cards between May 2007 and May 2008. School Superintendent Mary Steele-Agee charged the most during that period, nearly $16,000."

And say, what did Ms. Steele-Agee have to say about all those charges?

"She declined to comment following Tuesday's school board meeting."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Health nazidom's unintended consequences

We've talked about the new health regulations coming out of California government lately--the state government has banned the use of trans fats in restaurant and baked goods, south LA has put a one-year moratorium on the construction of new fast-food joints, and now San Francisco has banned drug-store chains such as Walgreen's from selling cigarettes. But what effect will all these new liberal we-know-what's-good-for-you regulations have? Reason magazine today points out a few:

"Not that anyone's taking the trans fat ban too hard; even the California Restaurant Association didn't put up much of a fight. Apparently, donuts fried in canola oil are just as tasty as their slightly more lethal counterparts fried in partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening, customers seem to like the idea of trans fat-free food, and making the transition to non-hydrogenated alternatives provides a great excuse to jack up prices. One Southern California hamburger joint told The New York Times it will have to increase the price of its fries from $1.75 to at least $2.75 because of the change. Similarly, the fact that there are already 400 or so fast-food outlets in the area of Los Angeles where the one-year moratorium will be enforced means a Happy Meal should still be easy to come by. Finally, banishing cigarettes from San Francisco pharmacies just means that smokers will be more likely to patronize liquor stores to get their nicotine fix—and anything that encourages addictive personalities to impulse-buy a quart of Jim Beam over an Odwalla Mo'Beta Smoothie can't be all bad for society, can it? Or to put it another way: These laws are getting passed not because they promise to radically change things, but rather because they aren't going to change things enough to truly inconvenience anyone. Which also suggests they won't have much impact on California's eating and smoking habits. Trans fats will still be available in packaged foods. In burger-plagued South Los Angeles, sit-down restaurants already outnumber fast-food outlets by more than 100, but the ready availability of slowly delivered fare has apparently done little to curb local appetites for fries and shakes."

Read the whole thing. Again, I point you all to an outstanding, classic conservative read--Friedrich von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. It was he who pointed out that government regulation, especially of the economy, was bound to fail; planners could never gather all of the information they would need, they could never know enough about the economy and all of the economic actors involved, to understand all of the consequences their blueprints would have. Hence there would be all of these unintended (read: bad!) we will surely see here. Again.

Maybe down the line Governor Ah-nuld will realize his mistakes. But don't count on it.

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Many Democrats and observers argued during the recent primary battle within the Democratic Party that Hillary Clinton would have made a great president. But you sure wouldn't have known it from the way she ran her campaign:

"A key take-away from the article is that Clinton received a lot of accurate advice, including from Penn. He wrote a remarkably prescient memo in March 2007 about the importance of appealing to what he called “the Invisible Americans,” specifically “WOMEN, LOWER AND MIDDLE CLASS VOTERS” — exactly the groups that helped Clinton beat Obama in key states nearly a year later. But no one synthesized and acted on the good advice. “The anger and toxic obsessions overwhelmed even the most reserved Beltway wise men,” Green writes. “[H]er advisers couldn’t execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution. ... [S]he never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles’ heel. “What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make.”

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd), part II

The Atlantic magazine obtained over 200 old Hillary Clinton campaign staff memos, and what emerges is the Clintonistas (and especially Mark Penn's) wonderful respect for love, diversity, and tolerance:

"Former chief strategist Mark Penn, who has taken so much heat in the race, lays out in an early 2007 memo the exact coalition that ended up giving Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a winning streak toward the end. "We are the candidate of people with needs," Penn wrote in March of 2007. "We win women, lower classes and Democrats." In the same note, Penn laid out his ideas for attacking Obama over his "lack of American roots" -- a fierce approach that caused a great deal of strife inside the Clinton campaign, as others warned that Clinton needed to build herself up rather than tear the first viable African American candidate down. "All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared towards showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light," Penn wrote. "Save it for 2050."

At the sports desk: briefly on Michael Phelps

NBC Sports asks, understandably enough, if Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete ever.
(Hey, wouldn't you want the guy people are calling the greatest appearing nightly on YOUR network for a couple of weeks?)

But what most impressed me about Phelps was what happened the other night. It didn't occur in one of his individual events. Instead, it was when he participated in that U.S. men's swimming medley relay team. The other night, the French team in that event was the overwhelming favorite. One of the French swimmers vowed that his group would "smash" the Americans. Well, they didn't--and did you see Phelps roaring and jumping for joy when the Americans won in an upset? He wasn't happy because he'd get another individual medal. Rather, he was happy his team and his country won. Indeed, I haven't seen him happier than in that moment. Good for him--a guy happy not only for his own accomplishments, but for his team's, too.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The conservative argument on energy, further refined

No pun intended. Meanwhile, Michael Gerson in a recent column further explicated good, solid principles for conservatives to follow on energy policy; and it's good for the McCain campaign that they're pursuing them:

"...for McCain the energy issue has been a gift. There is perhaps no other topic in American politics today on which the public is angry, seeks action and agrees strongly with Republicans. McCain's approach is to do it all: drilling, nuclear, alternatives and conservation. Obama's approach has been reactive and irrelevant. What would his redistributed windfall profits tax do to produce energy or reduce the need for it? And Obama is hamstrung by a coalition that insists we will not drill our way out of this problem -- which is true but beside the point. No single approach will solve the problem in the short or medium term. And a nation in an energy crisis has every justification to extract its oil and natural gas while it pursues alternatives to oil and natural gas."

Exactly. And what's also interesting is that this shows that conservatives ARE pragmatic, flexible, adaptable, willing to think through flexible solutions to a crisis. It's amazing that Obama and many liberals are being so rigid in their opposition to common sense energy proposals.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Voices of moderation

Say, conservatives--when was the last time a liberal acquaintance of yours complained about conservative or Republican "extremism"?
Happens all the time, right? Well, funny thing is, it's out liberal friends who are often the most extreme. Here are two recent examples:

First, see what a Democratic congressman has to say about our government's Department of Homeland Security:

"You know who is in charge now? The Gestapo agents at [the Department of] Homeland Security. They are in charge."

Meanwhile, here Byron York of NRO reports that serious voices on the left are calling for "Nuremberg-style tribunals" by which to put on trial members of the Bush administration for "war crimes", should there be an Obama victory in November.


Friday, August 8, 2008

The saga of John Edwards

He's admitted to indeed having an affair.
Though he denies fathering the woman's child.

Nothing can obscure the fact that he denied the affair for months.
He lied.
Democrats, now with both Elliott Spitzer and John Edwards in their corner, will have to be careful about charging Republicans as being the party of "corruption", immorality, etc.

Democratic Party "unity" watch (contd)

The Obama and Clinton camps have a hard time negotiating a convention deal:

"Former president Bill Clinton is almost certain to play a role, perhaps on Wednesday, Aug. 27, advisers said, despite his lukewarm embrace so far of the Democratic candidate. His apparent reluctance to declare that Obama is qualified for the presidency in an interview with ABC this week left Obama aides rolling their eyes....some Clinton supporters and delegates are mobilizing to attempt to force a symbolic vote, or at least draw as much attention to the Clinton team as possible during the Denver events. Michele Thomas, 40, a photographer in Los Angeles, said she is helping organize delegates who think that only through a roll call can Clinton be properly honored. "If the party is speaking about unity, they [the Clinton delegates] believe the only way to unify the party is actually allowing them to vote," Thomas said in a phone interview yesterday. "Moving beyond the convention, if they were not allowed to vote there would be a lot of resentment."

If you have to keep saying how unified you are as a party, chances are you're not.

Voices of weakness

Random House publishers withdraw a novel dealing with Islam. Why?

"Random House deputy publisher Thomas Perry said in a statement the company received "cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment." "In this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel," Perry said."

Great. That should really discourage those Islamic extremists, and teach them that their threats of violence won't work...

At the sports desk: Brett Favre now a Jet

...and Mayor Bloomberg rolls out the red carpet for him, even getting him a Metrocard for the subway.

More seriously, who's the winner here? Many writers have claimed Favre is the loser in all this.
Some say his impact in NY will be limited.
Others point to the fact that he didn't get to go to Minnesota, like he wanted.

But I disagree. Favre wanted to play. Now he'll have the chance.
No, the Jets aren't yet Super Bowl material. But they'll have a shot at a wild-card playoff berth in the AFC...and Favre certainly has the stuff to take them there.
And tell me, now with Aaron Rodgers, who thinks the Green Bay Packers are still a Super Bowl contender? They may be lucky to scratch out a wild-card berth, too. When, with Favre, they could have made it to the big game this year.
That makes the Packers the loser, to me.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

An answer for Reyna Armendariz

A gang-rapist and killer is executed, and his cousin--along with the government of Mexico--is not happy:

"Mexico's government condemned Texas' execution of Jose Medellin despite a world court order to review the case, expressing concern for the rights of other Mexicans detained in the United States....Medellin was convicted of participating in the gang rape, beating and strangling of Elizabeth Pena, 16, and Jennifer Ertman, 14. He and five fellow gang members attacked the girls as they were walking home on a June night, raped and tortured them for an hour, then kicked and stomped them before using a belt and shoelaces to strangle them. In Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where Medellin was born, a small group of his relatives condemned his execution. "Only God has the right to take a life," said Medellin's cousin Reyna Armendariz."

Well, Ms. Armendariz...
Your cousin Mr. Medellin didn't seem to agree with you.
And so he reaped what he sowed.